Sunday, October 22, 2017

Matt Kalil

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Image courtesy of Vikings.com

Any “penciled in” free agency deals have yet to be reported regarding the Minnesota Vikings, but reports of their intent and unconfirmed rumors persist just enough that we feel safe in predicting that Rick Spielman won’t frustrate everybody by simply sitting this one out like our foes to the east are known to do on an annual basis.

In the last couple of days the Vikings have taken steps to retain a select few of their own. Exclusive rights free agents Zac Kerin and Jeremiah Sirles have both been tendered. Also, the Vikings tendered restricted wide out Adam Thielen at the second round level, as expected.

What has yet to transpire, however, is anything of certainty suggesting the Vikings have sealed the deal with any outside talent. Chris Tomasson of the Pioneer Press reports that the Vikings have expressed interest in free agent nose tackle Domata Peko and also that the team may end up reaching out to quarterback Nick Foles.

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Vikings offer Matt Kalil a three-year deal
Image courtesy of Vikings.com

If Tuesday was a quiet free agency day, Wednesday is shaping up to be a busy one the Minnesota Vikings. General manager Rick Spielman has made it known fixing the offensive line is a priority, and overnight, rumors swirled around the team’s possible plan at left tackle.

According to Ryan Boser, the Vikings have already offered the much-maligned Matt Kalil a three-year deal. Boser tweeted the potential contract is worth around $28 million and includes bonuses. He also noted the situation is still “fluid,” as the Vikings are waiting on Carolina to make an offer to Kalil.

Minnesota Vikings
Image courtesy of Vikings.com

Welcome to the next installment of our Minnesota Vikings Free Agency Primer series: the running backs. Check out our other primers on tight ends, defensive ends, cornerbacks, safetiesquarterbacks, wideoutsdefensive tackles and running backs.

Does everybody have their hard hats and tool belts on? Good, because we’re about to embark on the rebuilding project of our lives.

LAST SEASON

The Minnesota Vikings offensive line can only improve after the utter destruction that unfolded in 2016.

Improvement appeared inevitable for the Vikings offensive line when general manager Rick Spielman acquired Alex Boone and Andre Smith during the 2016 free agency period. Matt Kalil was finally getting the chance to play with a competent left guard. Additionally, Joe Berger and Mike Harris were set to return to the starting lineup after rock solid 2015 campaigns.

Instead, a catastrophically lethal injury bug permeated the unit and knocked Kalil, Smith, and Harris out of commission before Week 5. Spielman then acquired Jake Long to provide depth. Long made it exactly four weeks and three games before tearing his Achilles.

Minnesota was forced to move forward the rest of the 2016 season with TJ Clemmings and Jeremiah Sirles starting at the bookends of the offensive line. Meanwhile, Joe Berger and Brandon Fusco sparingly missed action which called a laundry list of benchwarmers into action.

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Improving the OL a top priority

T.J. Clemmings is the only Minnesota Vikings tackle under contract heading into free agency. Matt Kalil, Andre Smith, Jake Long, and Jeremiah Sirles—the rotation of subpar 2016 starters—are all set to hit the open market next week. Some will become restricted free agents, others exclusive rights, and a few unrestricted, but one thing remains true: the Vikings are lacking any sustainability at a position critical to long-term success.

That’s a problem.

Even if general manager Rick Spielman were to retain their talents, he’d still enter 2017 with arguably the league’s worst rotation of tackles. Fortunately, the Vikings are flush with cash, thanks in large part to the decision to forego Adrian Peterson’s future contract option.

The NFLPA also did the Vikings—and the rest of the NFL—a favor by raising the salary cap to $167 million. An increase of seven percent over the 2016 figure gives Spielman nearly $38 million to spend on premier tackles, running backs, and other positions of need — if he so chooses.

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